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Born in the Trash

Dan Epstein

The first pages of the book are of Christ being crucified and throughout the book images of Christ are shown to parallel Juan Solo's struggles.

Son of the Gun #1 - Born in the Trash

Publisher: Humanoids Publishing
Contributors: Georges Bess (Artists)
Price: $14.95
Writer: Alexandro Jodorowsky
Item Type: Comic
Length: 64
Publication Date: 2001-12

Back in 1970, a protégé of famed mime Marcel Marceau and co-founder of the French Surrealist movement "Panic Movement" Alexandro Jodorowsky, was able to release the film El Topo. El Topo, with its images of naked young people whipped with cacti and a priest riding into the sunset with a midget and her newborn baby, quickly became a cult classic. Alexandro Jodorowsky was hailed as the cinematic heir to Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel.

Over the years Jodorowsky made more films including Tusk, The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre and Rainbow Thief. An aborted film version of Dune was attempted which would have united Salvador Dali, Gloria Swanson, and Orson Welles as cast members, with Pink Floyd to write the score and H.R. Giger and Moebius to create the world on paper. The project was obviously aborted and as we all know David Lynch went on to create the failure of a film.

Today Jodorowsky is attempting to put together his latest film, an unofficial sequel to El Topo. It is the story of Cain and Abel. After a nuclear apocalypse, the landscape is a desert ruin except for a small island paradise. Marilyn Manson is supposedly set to star as Cain but, in my personal opinion, hopefully he'll get James Van Der Beek for Abel.

Now you may be saying, "Thanks, dude, for telling me about some freaky filmmaker, who is probably more famous in Paris, France, than he is in the entire United States. Like I care!" Well, this is why you should care.

During his 35-year film career Jodorowsky has written more pages of comic books than he has pages of film scripts. After meeting with Moebius for the aborted Dune project, they collaborated on The Adventures of John Difool and The Incal and the Madwoman of the Sacred Heart. Most recently Jodorowsky has expanded the world of the Incal and created a science fiction world far and beyond the scope of anyone's imagination in a spin-off called the Metabarons (which you can read my review of at slushfactory.com.

But for this review we are concentrating on the first book of the continuing hardcover series Son of the Gun, which is illustrated by famed French artist Georges Bess who previously collaborated with Jodorowsky on issues of White Lama.

The book begins in modern Mexico, with a baby being found by the most disgusting transvestite midget whore I have ever seen. The whore is deciding whether or not to keep the baby when he discovers that the baby has a tail growing out of the bottom of his spine.

He keeps the baby, names him Juan Solo, and feeds him from the teats of a dog. It is here that Juan's trials and tribulations begin. Years later, his adopted parent is murdered by street thugs and all he is able to leave Juan is a loaded gun. The gun draws people to Juan and then holds them to him. When bullies beat him and make fun of his tail, Juan takes over their gang with a wave of his pistol and the shooting of a nearby horse.

When Juan is a teenager, he is attacked in a dance club because of his tail and made to strip. When attacked, he kills all his attackers and flavors the club's sangria with one of their hands. Soon Juan is working as a bodyguard with the local Mexican mafia. He becomes the most liked of the mob boss' bodyguards because he murders his enemies quickly. The mobster's former bodyguard challenges him to a fight and this is where the first book ends.

In Son of the Gun, Jodorowsky has created a Christ-like character. A term not used without merit because the first pages of the book are of Christ being crucified and throughout the book images of Christ are shown to parallel Juan Solo's struggles.

Also, images like a whore raising Juan, the complete opposite to the Virgin Mary who birthed Christ, contribute to the allusion. There has also been quite the famous misconception that Jews have horns, which is based on an incorrect translation of the Bible. So Jodorowsky has a little fun. Instead of placing the horn on the head of his "Jew," he gives him a tail.

It is said that Jesus' mother, the Virgin Mary, did suffer and die, but in doing so she surrendered her maternal rights to her son for the salvation of mankind. In much the same way, Juan's adopted parent was murdered and then he turned over the only valuable he had, the gun which eventually went to be Juan's salvation.

Juan is ridiculed and tortured because of his tail or his "Jewishness". He induces fear in them with a demonstration of his gun and taking a life instead of the way that Jesus supposedly did by performing miracles such as walking on water. Juan inspires fear and respect much in the same way that Jesus inspired love and respect.

Son of a Gun is an excellent book with the art being reminiscent of early Heavy Metal magazines which is probably because Georges Bess was a big contributor to Heavy Metal's precursor, Metal Hurlant. Bess also colors the book in muted reds and browns. I think this may be the color of Mexico after the sun beats down on you all. At times its looks so hot there that I felt like sweating myself. I would like to say that Bess draws just as well as any American comic book artist but, considering the state of comic art today, he easily surpasses them. His panel placement and angle choices allows your eye to move over the pages so quickly that it is possible to spin though them in 20 minutes. Then once you realize how much you missed you will need to go back and read it again to pick up all the details that Bess and Jodorowsky slipped in.

The book was originally written in French but was translated perfectly to English by Justin Kelly who has translated a number of Jodorowsky's scripts for Humanoids publishing.

The presentation is par for the course for Humanoids who have created countless beautiful hardcover 8x11 books in the last few years. The cover is stunning but it may bring up images of Lone Wolf and Cub [Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima's intense and influential manga series]. Though the story is nothing like Lone Wolf and Cub, I would dare to say that they are both on par with one another in terms of excellence.

Bess' art and Jodorowsky's story blend seamlessly to create this tale of Jesus Christ's beginnings. But, let me tell you, this is no preachy moralistic tale. It is down, dirty and filled with lead. These characters are right out the best of Jim Thompson's crime novels. They can take crap and give it back ten-fold. They remind me of 1930s pulp novels like The Shadow and Doc Savage but with a more homegrown feel. This is blood, guts and allegory. Definitely no glory and this may end up to be Jodorowsky's greatest epic ever. From a man that's given us our greatest westerns to the most mind boggling space epics.

It is certainly shaping up to be his bloodiest.

I know that I am eagerly waiting to find out who will be Juan Solo's Judas.

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